Christmas day 1981. I finished my morning show on WMGK radio in Philadelphia. I went home, loaded up my wife and son and we took off in our red Chevette for Birmingham. We went west on the PA Turnpike past Three Mile Island, then turned south on I-81 toward the Shenandoah Valley.
Our plan was to spend the night in Knoxville. We figured we would enjoy a nice Christmas dinner in Roanoke. It’s not a huge metropolis, but it is a decent-sized town, which we guessed would have many dining options, even on Christmas. We were wrong.
We ventured off the interstate into the city. Nothing was open. Not even the Holiday Inn restaurant. Giving up, we headed back to I-81. Just before we hit the on ramp, we noticed a familiar sign beyond the interchange: Waffle House. It was open.
My wife was hesitant to have our family Christmas dinner at Waffle House. On the other hand, she, my son and I were hungry. Plus, our options were limited.
As I recall, my Waffle House steak was delicious. Or maybe it tasted especially good because I had not eaten anything except travel snacks since we left our home in the Philly burbs.
This year we lost our older son. As we remember him this Christmas and recall the happy times we had with him, our Waffle House Christmas dinner will continue to be among our favorite Christmas memories.